Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include a response from RCMP.
A three-term chief of a northern Alberta First Nation says he will provide video evidence Saturday of a beating he says he took from two RCMP officers who allegedly apprehended the chief for an expired vehicle licence plate tag.
Chief Allan Adam of the Athabascan Chipewyan First Nation was at a casino in Fort McMurray with his wife and niece on March 11, sources told Global News, adding when the family left the casino, they went to their truck where Adam’s wife was driving and Adam was a passenger.
Sources say that an RCMP officer approached the family about an expired tag on their vehicle licence plates.
They go on to say an RCMP officer laid hands on Adam’s wife and Adam objected. A second RCMP officer then arrived on the scene.
An altercation occurred and, in the course of that altercation, the two RCMP officers are alleged to have assaulted Adam. He suffered lacerations to his face and bruising which, he will claim on Saturday, were caused when the two officers were on top of him and slammed his face into the pavement in the parking lot.
Chief Adam was subsequently charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer, according to sources who also say he spent the night in jail at the Wood Buffalo RCMP detachment in Fort McMurray before he was released.
“If Chief Adam said this happened, then I 100 per cent believe him,” said Kyle Harrietha, who has known Adam for several years. Harrietha ran unsuccessfully as a federal election candidate in Fort McMurray and now works in Ottawa as a Liberal government staffer.
One of the sources Global News has spoken with about the situation is connected to the Adam legal team and another is connected to the Indigenous community in the Fort McMurray area, which is supporting Adam.
Those sources say Chief Adam will present video footage taken by bystanders in the casino parking lot on March 11 that shows the RCMP officers beating Adam.
The RCMP officers, Adam’s legal team says, were big men. One weighed approximately 240 pounds, another weighed 255 pounds, they claim. Adam weighs about 155 pounds.
The RCMP is believed to have recorded the incident on cameras installed in the RCMP cruisers. Adam’s legal team has sought a court order to have the video recorded by those cameras released to the public.
It is anticipated Adam will present evidence he has since been harassed and surveilled by RCMP in the last several days.
Adam is also expected to explain why there has been a delay between his arrest on March 11 and the public disclosure he will make Saturday. Those advising him say that while Adam wanted to go public as soon as it happened, his legal advisors preferred to wait until prosecutors had provided the disclosure of evidence against Adam.
RCMP media relations officers in Alberta were not prepared to provide a statement to Global News when reached Friday evening.
However, RCMP did provide a statement to The Globe and Mail in which the officials disputed Chief Adam’s claims that excessive force was used, going on to say that Adam was resisting arrest and that the actions of the officers was “reasonable.”